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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: OAT QUALITY IMPROVEMENT

Location: Cereal Crops Research

2005 Annual Report


1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? What does it matter?
Oats are a nutritious and healthful food. They are high in protein and contain high levels of soluble fiber, known as beta-glucan, that has a physiological effect on humans of lowering blood cholesterol. Thus, the consumption of oats or oat products can lower the chance of heart disease. Oats are also an important animal feed, and are particularly important in regions where corn and soybeans cannot be grown, or where horses are raised extensively. Finally, oats are being processed to make value-added products. Quality of oats grown in the United States needs improvement to enhance their milling and nutritional value for food, feed and value-added applications. This project evaluates factors affecting oat quality, generates new and improved means to evaluate oat quality, and interacts with a breeding program to generate improved oat cultivars.

Improvement of American oat quality is particularly important in light of eroding American oat production being replaced by Canadian oat imports during a time of increasing American oat demand. Improved quality of American grown oats over the Canadian imports may contribute to the recapture of the American oat market by American grown grain, and will contribute to agricultural economic stability by providing a more diverse commodity base.

This project has three main objectives to contribute to oat quality improvement. Objective 1: Evaluate role of oat panicle architecture on the environmental stability of high test weight of grain. Because test weight is the primary factor affecting value of oats, improvement of environmental stability of test weight is intended to allow producers to more consistently produce grain of high value. Objective 2: Determine the effect of oat kernel shape and size upon dehulling characteristics. The value of oats to an oat processor is primarily determined by the milling yield during dehulling with an impact dehuller. Characterization of physical characteristics associated with milling yield is intended to help improve the profitability of the oat milling process. Objective 3: Determine environmental and genotypic variation of oat oil composition. Oats contain unique and potentially valuable oils. Chemical characterization of these may lead to improved value in oats as a crop.

The primary thrust of this research directly relates to both components of NP306: Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products (Component 1: Quality Characterization, Preservation, and Enhancement; Component 2: New Processes, New Uses, and Value-added Foods and Biobased Products).


2.List the milestones (indicators of progress) from your Project Plan.
Test-weight Stability: Screen 100 lines at a single location for characteristics. Gather first year of samples for plant density project. Impact Dehulling: Characterize size separation methods. Characterize operation of impact dehuller. Oat Oil Project: Complete initial characterization of oat oil from Paul and Morton oats. 2006 Test-weight Stability: Grow hill plots at diverse environments. Gather second year samples for plant density project. Impact Dehulling: Determine dehulling characteristics on size fractions from two oat cultivars with impact dehuller. Oat Oil Project: Initiate extractions and analysis of diverse genotypes from at least three environments. 2007 Test-weight Stability: Grow hill plots in diverse environments and analyze panicle architecture. Analyze data from plant density experiment. Impact Dehulling: Determine dehulling characteristics from size fractions of up to 12 genotypes. Oat Oil Project: Continue extractions and analyses of oat oil from diverse genotypes grown in different environments. 2008 Test-weight Stability: Grow hill plots in diverse environments and analyze panicle architecture. Complete analysis of role of kernel order in spikelets on bimodal distribution. Impact Dehulling: Collect second year of dehulling characteristics from 12 genotypes. Oat Oil Project: Continue extractions and analyses of oat oil from diverse genotypes grown in different environments. 2009 Test-weight Stability: If necessary, grow hill plots for fourth year. Complete data analysis for data set. Impact Dehulling: If necessary, collect third year of dehulling characteristics from 12 genotypes. Assemble data set and analyze. Oat Oil Project: Complete oil extractions and apply statistical analyses to results.


4a.What was the single most significant accomplishment this past year?
Less kernels per panicle leads to higher test weight oats: Physical characteristics of oats associated with increased grain test weight were characterized in oats of the same genotype grown in the same environment through a snipping experiment. In this experiment, a portion of the kernels were removed from oat panicles in the field and characteristics of the mature grain remaining were compared with grain from untreated panicles. Grain from snipped panicles did not differ from untreated grain in kernel size, but were significantly more massive, had increased test weight, and had more massive groats that were larger than controls in linear dimensions. This experiment has demonstrated a mechanism by which grain test weight can be manipulated in the field within the same genotype and environment, has indicated physical characteristics of oat kernels associated with high test weight, and supports the hypothesis that smaller panicles will have improved environmental stability for increased test weight.


4b.List other significant accomplishments, if any.
Larger groat to oat size is associated with higher grain test weight: Oat groat (caryopsis) size was measured by digital image analysis from ten oat cultivars grown at four locations over two years and compared with the size of the whole oat kernel, including the hull. This provided evidence for the physical basis of test weight, and suggested that low test weight oats may contain significant amounts of empty space within their hulls. Test weight is a primary determinant of value in oats. The determination of physical characteristics associated with high test weight will assist breeders to select for oat lines for this trait.

Oat kernel size affects dehulling characteristics: The linear dimensions of the oat kernels affect the dehulling efficiency of oat using an impact oat dehuller. We have separated oats according to width, length and density, then dehulled each size fraction with an impact dehuller at a series of rotor speeds, as is used in commercial oat milling operations. Larger kernels separated by width dehulled more efficiently at slower rotor speeds, whereas larger kernels as separated by length dehulled more efficiently at higher rotor speeds. These results indicate that the relationship between kernel size and dehulling efficiency with rotor speed is more complex than simply a matter of kernel mass. Characterization of these relationships may enable commercial mills to improve their milling yield and profit from their operations.

Oat cultivars released: The North Dakota State University oat breeding program, in collaboration with ARS has released two new oat cultivars, named Maida, and Stark. Maida is a high quality milling oat with improved stem rust resistance. Stark is a high yielding, high quality naked oat. These new oat cultivars are designed to bring current germplasm improvements to the oat producers of the northern plains region.


4c.List any significant activities that support special target populations.
High soluble fiber organic oats to be marketed as a health food: An organic food company has obtained an agreement from North Dakota State University to market the high soluble fiber oat cultivar oat ‘HiFi’, developed in collaboration with ARS, as a health food. The cultivar, HiFi, contains about 50% more soluble fiber than oats in the open market. ARS is providing limited analytical services to this company to facilitate the smooth transfer of this technology to the marketplace. This company is contracting with a number of small organic farms to produce HiFi oats and oat flakes produced from this production will be marketed for their improved health benefiting properties.


4d.Progress report.
None


5.Describe the major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact.
This is the first year of the project, so that the accomplishments over the life of the project are the same as for this year.

Less kernels per panicle leads to higher test weight oats: Physical characteristics of oats associated with increased grain test weight were characterized in oats of the same genotype grown in the same environment through a snipping experiment. In this experiment a portion of the kernels were removed from oat panicles in the field and characteristics of the grain remaining was compared with grain from untreated panicles. Grain from snipped panicles did not differ from untreated grain in kernel size, but were significantly more massive, had increased test weight, and had more massive groats that were larger than controls in linear dimensions. This experiment has demonstrated a mechanism by which grain test weight can be manipulated in the field within the same genotype and environment, has indicated physical characteristics of oat kernels associated with high test weight, and supports the hypothesis that smaller panicles will have improved environmental stability for increased test weight.

Larger groat to oat size is associated with higher grain test weight: Oat groat (caryopsis) size was measured by digital image analysis from ten oat cultivars grown at four locations over two years and compared with the size of the whole oat kernel, including the hull. This provides evidence for the physical basis of test weight, and suggests that low test weight oats may contain significant amounts of empty space within their hulls. Test weight is a primary determinant of value in oats. The determination of physical characteristics associated with high test weight will assist breeders to select for oat lines for this trait.

Oat kernel size affects dehulling characteristics: The linear dimensions of the oat kernels affect the dehulling efficiency of oat using an impact oat dehuller. We have separated oats according to width, length and density, then dehulled each size fraction with an impact dehuller at a series of rotor speeds, as is used in commercial oat milling operations. Larger kernels separated by width dehulled more efficiently at slower rotor speeds, whereas larger kernels as separated by length dehulled more efficiently at higher rotor speeds. These results indicate that the relationship between kernel size and dehulling efficiency with rotor speed is more complex than simply a matter of kernel mass. Characterization of these relationships may enable commercial mills to improve their milling yield and profit from their operations.

Oat cultivars released: The North Dakota State University oat breeding program, in collaboration with ARS has released two new oat cultivars, named Maida, and Stark. Maida is a high quality milling oat with improved stem rust resistance. Stark is a high yielding, high quality naked oat. These new oat cultivars are designed to bring current germplasm improvements to the oat produces of the northern plains region.

The primary thrust of this research directly relates to both components of NP306: Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products (Component 1: Quality Characterization, Preservation, and Enhancement; Component 2: New Processes, New Uses, and Value-added Foods and Biobased Products). Accomplishments also relate to ARS Strategic Plan Goal 1: Enhance economic opportunities for agricultural producers, Objective 1.1: Provide the science-based knowledge and technologies to generate new or improved high quality, value-added products and processes to expand domestic and foreign markets for agricultural commodities, and Performance Measure 1.1.2.


6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
We continue to provide technical consulting services to the oat processing industry to help solve problems in the industry. Our most significant activity this year has been to characterize precise beta-glucan (soluble fiber) concentrations in organically grown HiFi oats to be marketed as a health food (see item 4c). We have also collaborated with a project sponsored by the Oat Products Technical Committee of the American Association of Cereal Chemists to standardize oat flour pasting methodologies. We have performed experiments prompted by a major oat milling company to determine the effects of freezing on oat kernel dehulling characteristics, and are initiating investigations into why some steel cut groats marketed by a major oat milling company turn green when boiled in water from some sources. We provide limited analytical services to oat breeders and oat processing companies to evaluate experimental oat lines. Our release of oat cultivars and scientific papers also represents technology transfers, where our customers are farmers, oat processing companies, oat breeders and other scientists.


7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).
McMullen, M.S., and Doehlert, D.C. 2003. North Dakota: A state report. Oat Newsletter 2003. (non-peer reviewed publication) Doehlert, D. C., Jannink, J.-L., and McMullen, M. S. (2004) Kernel size distributions in naked oats. AACC 2004 Annual Meeting Program Book, p 149. (presentation) Doehlert, D.C., McMullen, M.S., Jannink, J,-L. (2004) Oat kernel size uniformity. 7th International Oat Conference Book of Abstracts, p 54. (presentation)


Review Publications
Chakraborty, M., Matkovic, K., Berzonsky, W.A., Mcmullen, M.S., Doehlert, D.C. 2004. Physicochemical and functional properties of tetraploid and hezaploid waxy wheat starch. Starch. Vol. 56:339-347.

Vignaux, N., Doehlert, D.C., Elias, E.M., Mcmullen, M.S., Grant, L.A., Kianian, S.F. 2005. Quality of spaghetti made from full and partial waxy durum wheat. Cereal Chemistry. Vol. 82:93-100

Doehlert, D.C., Mcmullen, M.S., Jannink, J.L., Panigrahi, S., Gu, H., Riveland, N.R. 2005. A bimodal model for oat kernel size distributions. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. Vol. 85:317-326.

Mcmullen, M.S., Doehlert, D.C., Miller, J.D. 2005. Registration of 'Morton' oat. Crop Science. Vol. 45:1665.

Mcmullen, M.S., Doehlert, D.C., Miller, J.D. 2005. Registration of 'HiFi' oat. Crop Science. Vol. 45:1664.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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